Expected Council Action
In June, the Council expects a briefing on Yemen by Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the situation in Yemen, followed by consultations.
The mandate of the Office of the Special Adviser on Yemen which expires on 18 June is expected to be renewed through an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council.
Key Recent Developments
Benomar last briefed the Council in consultations on 4 April, sharing positive news regarding the opening of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) on 18 March, which he characterised as a historic moment. The NDC, scheduled to be conducted over a six-month period, will feed into the drafting of a new constitution in the lead-up to general elections in February 2014. The NDC is made up of 565 delegates—coming from the north and the south, including women and youth—assigned to one of nine working groups addressing key subject areas.
Benomar also highlighted serious challenges in the transition, including finding a settlement to the fundamental nature of north-south relations in Yemen. (The southern movement argues that the 1990 unification resulted in discrimination against southerners and wants to renegotiate the terms of unity. Some factions are pushing for independence while others are calling for two-region federalism for a set period of time followed by a referendum on unity.) Benomar encouraged the government to address the grievances of southerners, such as unlawful seizure of property and removal from positions in the military and the public sector.
The NDC has faced some withdrawals, including that of 2011 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate and youth representative Tawakkol Karman on 17 March and chairman of the Islah party Mohammed Abdullah Alyadoomy on 19 March. Some southern factions are absent from the NDC. In early May, Ahmed bin Farid al-Suraima, a prominent southern leader who was heading the working group on the southern question, announced his permanent withdrawal from the conference.
Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had left Yemen for Saudi Arabia in early April for medical treatment, returned to Yemen later that month and has not appeared to be politically active since. On 10 April, President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi removed several Saleh relatives from key security positions: his son, General Ahmed Ali Saleh, was removed as commander of the Republican Guard to be ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, whereas two nephews, Ammar Saleh and General Tareq Saleh, were relieved as security chief and head of the Presidential Guard and sent to the embassies in Ethiopia and Germany, respectively. Hadi also appointed General Mohsen Ali al-Ahmar, a rival of Saleh and the former commander of First Armored Division, as presidential adviser for military affairs. The Council welcomed the reorganisation of the military in a press statement on 12 April and called on all parties to “support the President’s decrees and to work to ensure their prompt implementation” (SC/10969).
The security situation in Yemen is a growing concern. State security personnel have recently been subject to a series of assassinations by Al-Qaida militants in the southeastern Hadramawt province and the southern province of Lahij. On 24 May, Al-Qaida militants seized control of villages near the city of Al-Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt.
In May, there have also been a number of kidnappings by tribesmen of foreigners and humanitarian workers, including ICRC employees. At press time, most of those kidnapped had been freed, except for the South African couple abducted on 27 May.
In April and May there were demonstrations in Aden and other southern cities calling for renewed independence for the south.
Yemen is also threatened by weapons entering the country. The Panel of Experts that monitors compliance with the Iran sanctions regime reported to the 1737 Iran Sanctions Committee in April on its investigation of allegations presented by Yemen that it had intercepted a ship in January carrying missiles and rockets from Iran destined for Yemeni rebel groups. Additionally, Yemen announced that on 2 May it had intercepted a boat carrying 20,000 Turkish-made pistols.
On 7 March, the fifth ministerial-level meeting of the Friends of Yemen was held in London, co-chaired by Saudi Arabia, the UK and Yemen and attended by 39 countries and international organisations. The meeting focused on the progress of the NDC, preparations for elections, the security and humanitarian situations and following up on the $7.8 billion pledged by the Friends of Yemen in 2012.
The humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to be dire. On 16 May, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, warned that the chronic humanitarian crisis threatens to undermine the political process. He said that half of the population needed aid, including food assistance and access to safe water and basic healthcare. Only 28 percent of the $716 million sought by humanitarian agencies to provide emergency and early recovery assistance to the most vulnerable people has been funded. (Yemen has over 300,000 internally displaced as well as 242,000 refugees, mostly from Somalia, and a considerable migrant population, primarily Ethiopians looking to travel to the Gulf area and beyond.)
A key issue for the Council continues to be the NDC’s progress in preparation for general elections scheduled for February 2014. The tight timeline remains a serious challenge considering the delay in the opening of the NDC originally scheduled to start in November 2012 and the electoral reforms needed for the referendum on the constitution and for the general elections. The resolution of the southern question will play a decisive role in the success of the NDC.
A related issue for the Council is dealing with the continuously precarious security and humanitarian situation in Yemen, which could undermine the prospects for the political transition process.
The flow of weapons into Yemen and the presence of Al-Qaida are additional issues for the Council, possibly also adding a regional dimension to the problems.
The most likely option is for the Council to receive the briefing and take no action, preferring to wait and see how the NDC discussions evolve.
At this stage, it is unlikely the Council will further discuss the previously considered idea regarding the imposition of sanctions on spoilers to the transition.
Council members continue to follow the situation in Yemen closely through regular briefings from Benomar, remaining firm in their support for the NDC and the political transition process. Council members are united in their support for President Hadi.
The UK is the penholder on Yemen.
UN Documents on Yemen
|Security Council Resolution|
|12 June 2012 S/RES/2051||This resolution focused on the second phase of the transition and expressed the Council’s readiness to consider further measures, including under Article 41 of the Charter.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|15 February 2013 S/PRST/2013/3||This was a presidential statement twelcomed the announcement of the launch of the NDC, reiterated the Council’s readiness to consider imposing sanctions against spoilers to the transition and expressed concern over reports of money and weapons being brought into Yemen from outside.|
|Security Council Letters|
|21 June 2012 S/2012/470||This letter was from the President of the Council noting the receipt of the Secretary-General’s 18 June letter.|
|18 June 2012 S/2012/469||This letter was from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council noting his intention to establish a small office of the Special Adviser for the initial period of 12 months.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|12 April 2013 SC/10969||The Council welcomed Yemen’s reorganisation of the military and called on all parties to support the President’s decrees and to work to ensure their prompt implementation.|
Other Relevant Fact
Special Adviser to the Secretary-General and UN Envoy to Yemen
Jamal Benomar (Morocco)